Tufts University Professor Alice Lichtenstein and Harvard Medical School Professor David Ludwig team up in this commentary to advocate bringing back home economics to school classrooms as a way to combat the country’s childhood obesity epidemic. “Instruction in basic food preparation and meal planning skills needs to be part of any long-term solution,” they write.
The authors welcome better food and beverage choices in schools and communities, but assert that those choices will have limited effect “if children do not have the ability to make better choices in the outside-school world,” which they will inhabit for the majority of their lives. “If children are raised to feel uncomfortable in the kitchen, they will be at a disadvantage for life.”
They opine that unlike home economics classes of the 1960s, new food education classes should be open to both genders. “Girls and boys should be taught the basic principles they will need to feed themselves and their families within the current food environment: a version of hunting and gathering for the 21st century. Through a combination of pragmatic instruction, field trips, and demonstrations, this curriculum would aim to transform meal preparation from an intimidating chore into a manageable and rewarding pursuit.”